Share Your Memories

Maybe it was the first time you felt like a bona fide college student. The last time you smelled the sulfur in the lab. Or maybe it was something your professor said that soaked in and stayed with you through the years. Tell us, and tell your fellow Warriors, what you remember most about your college years at CSU Stanislaus. We’re building a collective memory bowl from which to share nostalgia in dollops. Read about those memories here...

     “How I Was Hired By Louis A. Feldman.

I obtained my position at California State University, Stanislaus, by first declining the job that I was to hold for 40 years. It happened in the late spring of 1967.

I was a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, where I had been living on fellowships, teaching assistantships, and grants. I was beginning to think that society might soon stop supporting me for pursuing my hobby of being a graduate student of mathematics. My thesis adviser had told me that I would be receiving a grant for the coming year, but I had not yet received official notification. Consequently, I thought that I ought to look for a part-time job just in case the grant did not materialize.

Near the Mathematics Department at Berkeley was a bulletin board covered with three-by-five cards showing job opportunities. One card seemed to have what I wanted. Someone named James N. Javaher at an institution called Stanislaus State College in someplace called Turlock, California, wanted to hire a part-time mathematics instructor. I decided to mail a letter of inquiry.

Several days later I was awakened by the telephone. The caller identified himself as James Javaher. I had no idea who he was, but I felt that I should have known, so I pretended that I knew. After a couple minutes of conversation, I remembered who he was, and I agreed to come to Turlock for an interview.

Dr. Javaher was very cordial to me. I learned that he had been the first full-time faculty member in mathematics and the first chair of the Department of Mathematics. He was having great difficulty hiring faculty, especially those with Ph.D.'s in mathematics. He made me a very fair offer and promised me a teaching schedule which recognized that I would be trying to finish my thesis. I told Jim that I would give his offer very serious consideration and get back to him shortly.

Truthfully, I did not really want to take the job. I wanted to be able to concentrate on finishing my doctorate, and I believed that the promised grant would probably materialize. Consequently, I did not give Jim a definitive yes or no. I kept stalling him. Eventually, I learned that I would receive the promised grant, and I declined his offer.

The next January the annual joint meetings of the professional mathematical organizations were at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco. Included in these meetings is an employment register where those wishing to hire mathematicians get to interview those seeking jobs.

Again I was thinking that society would soon stop supporting me for being a graduate student. I knew that I ought to look for a job in Northern California which would enable me to earn a living and simultaneously finish my doctorate, so I signed up to participate in the employment register. I had been favorably impressed with Jim Javaher and Stanislaus State College; therefore, I put Stanislaus State College high on my list of desired employers. Somewhat to my surprise, in spite of how I had treated him the previous summer, Jim Javaher responded by putting me high on his list of desired applicants.

When I arrived at his table, Jim greeted me very warmly. He told me that I was his first choice. If I wanted it, the job was mine. He assured me that the department would be run in a very egalitarian manner: each faculty member would determine the upper division curriculum and teach the upper division courses in his or her area of expertise. I would be in charge of the upper division geometry and related courses. Each faculty member would have an equal voice in the affairs of the department, and my teaching schedule would consider my need to finish my doctorate. The offer was very appealing, and I was excited about the opportunity. I told Jim that I would give him a definitive answer within three days.

In addition to the professional opportunities presented to me by Jim Javaher, I could see other good reasons to take the job. Stanislaus State College was a new and growing institution. There was no one ahead of me in my field: I would not have to wait for someone to die or retire to get a promotion. The anticipated growth of the institution ought to result in promotions coming at a faster rate. Furthermore, Modesto and Turlock impressed me as good places to raise a family. I called Jim Javaher at his home before the end of the third day and accepted his offer.

My hiring fulfilled the recommendation of the previous accreditation report to employ a geometer. My hiring also increased the number of full-time faculty members in the Department of Mathematics to four for the fall quarter of 1968. The other three members had doctor's degrees in mathematics, and I would be completing my doctor's degree within the coming academic year.

Louis A. Feldman
Retired Professor Emeritus of Mathematics